Friday, October 23, 2009

RailRunner, Stone India reach 10-year pact

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Lexington, Mass.-based RailRunner TM, N.A., Inc. announced Friday a 10-year collaborative agreement with Kolkata, India-based Stone Indiathrough Stone’s wholly owned subsidiary, Stone Intermodal Pvt Ltd. Under the exclusive agreement, Stone will manufacture, operate, distribute and sell RailRunner products inIndia.

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Railrunner develops and markets an advanced container-based intermodal transport system. The company said it already has received commercial and operating clearance from Indian Railways, and that design validation is in progress and should be completed soon. Once Indian Railway approves, “the company will enter into an agreement with Indian Railways fortrain operation with RailRunner’s unique, container-carrying intermodal cars,” RailRunner said in a statement.

Amit Mondal, managing director and CEO of Stone India, predicts RailRunner will have a major market impact because “through introduction of this patented system, for the first time, Indian container freight movement will have an air-cushioned ride and an articulated bogie, thereby enabling freight trains to run at mail/express train speed and permit sophisticated, fragile products to be transported through rail. The system will enable movement of automobiles, automobile components, and refrigerated productsseamlessly by rail as well as road.”

Stone India will invest $32 million in two phases, in order to first build manufacturing capacity to produce 25 RailRunner freight cars a month, and eventually to set up a “greenfield manufacturing plant” capable of producing 500 cars per month.

All the major components and systems for these freight cars will be manufactured in-house by Stone India. The company expects the cargo market in India will support 50 operating RailRunner freight routes within five years.

For RailRunner’s part, said Presdient and CEO Charles Foskett, “We have been working closely with Stone for some time in preparationof the collaboration agreement.” He added, “We are confident that Stone has the core technology, marketing strength, and understanding of the needs of India Railways to achieve significant market penetration. We are looking forward to working closely with Stone to support them in their commercial efforts. We agree with Stone that the Indian market will be a significant revenue source for our products."